Indian astronomy

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Indian astronomy has a long history stretching from pre-historic to modern times. Some of the earliest roots of Indian astronomy can be dated to the period of Indus Valley Civilization or earlier. Astronomy later developed as a discipline of Vedanga or one of the "auxiliary disciplines" associated with the study of the Vedas, dating 1500 BCE or older. The oldest known text is the Vedanga Jyotisha, dated to 1400–1200 BCE (with the extant form possibly from 700–600 BCE).

Quotes[edit]

  • The Hindu systems of astronomy are by far the oldest, and that from which the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and even the Jews derived Hindus their knowledge.
    • Jean-Sylvain Bailly. source:: The Secret Doctrine, Volume 3, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky Quoted from Gewali, Salil (2013). Great Minds on India. New Delhi: Penguin Random House.
  • That Hindu astronomical lore about ancient times cannot be based on later back-calculation, was also argued by Playfair’s contemporary, the French astronomer jean-Sylvain Bailly: “The motions of the stars calculated by the Hindus before some 4500 years vary not even a single minute from the [modern] tables of Cassini and Meyer. The Indian tables give the same annual variation of the moon as that discovered by Tycho Brahe - a variation unknown to the school of Alexandria and also the Arabs.”
    • Jean-Sylvain Bailly. source: World as Seen Under the Lens of a Scientist, Dr Vithal B. Shetty Quoted from Gewali, Salil (2013). Great Minds on India. New Delhi: Penguin Random House. Quoted in S. Sathe: In Search for the Year of the Bharata War, Navabharati, Hyderabad 1982, p.32. , quoted in Elst, Koenraad (1999). Update on the Aryan invasion debate New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • The Hindu religion is the only one of the world’s great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long. Longer than the age of the earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang.
    • Carl Sagan. source: Cosmos, Dr Carl Sagan. Quoted from Gewali, Salil (2013). Great Minds on India. New Delhi: Penguin Random House.
  • “The observations on which the astronomy of India is founded, were made more than three thousand years before the Christian era. (…) Two other elements of this astronomy, the equation of the sun’s centre and the obliquity of the ecliptic (…) seem to point to a period still more remote, and to fix the origin of this astronomy 1000 or 1200 years earlier, that is, 4300 years before the Christian era”.
  • All this at least on the assumption that Playfair’s, Bailly’s and Rajaram’s claims about the Hindu astronomical tables are correct. Disputants may start by proving them factually wrong, but should not enter the dispute arena without a refutation of the astronomers’ assertions. It is something of a scandal that Playfair’s and Bailly’s findings have been lying around for two hundred years while linguists and indologists were publishing speculations on Vedic chronology in stark disregard for the contribution of astronomy.... One of the earliest estimates of the date of the Vedas was at once among the most scientific. In 1790, the Scottish mathematician John Playfair demonstrated that the starting-date of the astronomical observations recorded in the tables still in use among Hindu astrologers (of which three copies had reached Europe between 1687 and 1787) had to be 4300 BC. His proposal was dismissed as absurd by some, but it was not refuted by any scientist.
  • Since the 1780s, Western researchers (Playfair, Bailly, Jacobi) have noticed data in Indian astronomy, both astronomical tables and stray astronomical references in religious and epic texts, which, through the millennial clock of the precession, indicate a surprisingly high chronology for Vedic civilization... Against the consistent and straightforward high-chronology interpretation of the astronomical evidence, the AIT has never offered a consistent interpretation of these data supporting its own low chronology. All we have is piecemeal attempts to deconstruct one datum or another, weakening its logical impact or dismissing it as imprecise.... In spite of this poverty in alternative explanations, nobody seems to be bothered by this inability to refute the stubborn astronomical evidence or to domesticate it somehow into the prevalent paradigm....Disputants may start by trying to prove Playfair and Bailly factually wrong. Indeed, I think it is high time to recheck their argumentation on the basis of all their original data. Meanwhile , it remains something of a scandal that Playfair's and Bailly's findings have been lying around for two hundred years while linguists and Indologists were publishing speculations on Vedic chronology in stark disregard for the contribution of astronomy.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2007). Asterisk in bharopiyasthan: Minor writings on the Aryan invasion debate.
  • The astronomical lore in Vedic literature provides elements of an absolute chronology in a consistent way. Moreover, it is encouraging to note that the astronomical evidence is free of contradictions. There would be a real problem if the astronomical indications had put the Upanishads earlier than the Rg-Veda, or Kalidasa earlier than the Brahmanas, but that is not the case: the astronomical evidence is consistent. Inconsistency would give support to the predictable objection that these astronomical references are but poetical fabulation without any scientific contents. However, the facts are just the opposite. To the extent that there are astronomical indications in the Vedas, these form a consistent set of data detailing an absolute chronology for Vedic literature in full agreement with the known relative chronology of the different texts of this literature. They contradict the hypothesis that the Vedas were composed after an invasion in ca. 1500 BC. Not one of the astronomical data in Vedic literature confirms the AIT-based low Vedic chronology.... Indeed, the whole corpus of astronomical evidence is hard to reconcile with the AIT, and has been standing as a growing challenge to the AIT for two centuries, i.e. from before the AIT had even been thought up. A convincing refutation would require an alternative but consistent (philogically as well as astronomically sound) interpretation of the existing astronomical indications that brings Vedic literature down to a much later age. But so far, such a reading of those text passages has not been offered. There is as yet no astronomical information which puts the Vedas at an AIT-compatible date.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2007). Asterisk in bharopiyasthan: Minor writings on the Aryan invasion debate.
  • “By adding the hymn counts of the ten books of the Rig-Veda in different combinations, we obtain numbers that are factors of the sidereal periods and the five synodic periods (…) The probability of this happening is about one in a million. Hence whoever arranged the Rig-Veda encoded into it not only obvious numbers like the lunar year but also hidden numbers of great astronomical significance.”

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